Moving into student halls makes leaving your parents’ home about as easy as it can be. Everything is simple with bills included in the rent, the furniture you need provided, straightforward contact points if problems occur and repairs carried out with minimal fuss. The next move though, moving from halls into your first independent housing, is a big step. You’ll be dealing with a very different situation and you’ll have a lot more to consider.
Finding the right place
The first thing most students consider when finding housing is location. If possible, you’ll want to live within walking distance of the place where you’re studying, and if you’re working part time then you’ll need to consider that as well. Factoring in safe routes back at night is also important. You’ll need to make sure that you have a responsible landlord or letting agency – if your college or university has an accommodation office, it may be able to help with this. You’ll also need to check if the property itself is suitable for your needs and in good condition. Never agree to rent without inspecting the property thoroughly. Don’t be shy about moving rugs or pieces of furniture to check for signs of damp, and make sure that power sockets are in good condition.
Most properties rented to students come with basic furniture already supplied but there may be some items you still need to buy and others that are well worth investing in. Getting a freezer, for instance, can save everyone in the household money by making it possible to cook large amounts of food at once and to store portions of it for busy days. if you can’t afford new items like desks or chairs, there are specialist second-hand shops that can help or you can buy second-hand items online or use FreeCycle. Some students recover furniture that has been abandoned in the street but don’t do this with soft furnishings as they may be infested with insects, and bear in mind that t can be very difficult to repair furniture that has been rained on.
When you leave your halls you’ll need to make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned or you could lose money on your deposit. You won’t necessarily be able to move into your new accommodation immediately, so check out local self-storage facilities where you can leave your things in the meantime – it’s much easier than moving them to another city only to bring them back a month or two later. This is also a good opportunity to go through the things you’ve accumulated over the past few months and see what you can do without. You could donate what you’re no longer using to a charity shop or offer it to other students.
Setting up home
When you first move in, you’ll need to acquire all the bits and pieces that were supplied for you in halls. You’re likely to need a lot of new kitchen equipment – a kettle and some mugs are a good start so that you can relax after moving with any friends who have helped you. The big advantage that private accommodation has over halls is that you’ll usually be able to stay there for a lot longer, so you can move in more personal items that you may not have felt it was worth carting around with you before. You may also want to grow some houseplants to make it feel more like a home.
Dealing with flatmates
Most students make their accommodation more affordable by sharing with others. This also tends to be safer and means that you’ll have people to socialise with at the end of the day even if you don’t have the energy for going out. Bear in mind that the qualities you really like in your friends may not be the same qualities you’d look for in somebody you want to share your home with, and make sure you choose people you can stand to be in close quarters with for prolonged periods of time. Make sure you’re all clear on how rent and bills are to be divided up, when it’s due and what will happen if somebody doesn’t have the money on time. You’ll also need to be clear with each other about what you expect when it comes to sharing housework.
Moving into your first independent home entails a lot of new responsibilities but with patience and good organisation you can make a success of it, and it can be a place where you’ll enjoy some of the best days of your life.